World cup #1: an exciting weekend from start to finish ~ Passion/Patin/Vitesse - Passion/Speed/Skating


5 novembre 2018

World cup #1: an exciting weekend from start to finish

A great weekend for Wu Dajing, Alyson Charles, Liu Shaoang and Suzanne Schulting, magical podiums for Véronique Pierron and Lara van Ruijven and a historical win for team China, the 2018-19 World cup season started with a bang in Calgary.

By Carl Savard
Photos by Danny Kim

Seven big finals were on the schedule yesterday with skaters battling for individual glory on 500m and 1000m while some were also joining forces with their teammates to get on team podiums for the  2000m mixed relay, 3000m women’s relay and 5000m men’s relay.

Lara van Ruijven's golden smile
Two of the skaters who fought in the A final of the first 500m of the weekend Saturday had to face each other again on Sunday. Canada’s Alyson Charles and Poland’s Natalia Maliszewska had a meeting with China’s Fan Kexin and Lara van Ruijven from the Netherlands. After an amazing start by Charles, van Ruijven eventually passed her and didn’t look back. The Dutch skater who’s accustomed to having success with her teammates in relay events, was extatic after her win. A first gold medal for her on the World cup circuit. Fan Kexin won silver while Canada’s Alyson Charles won the bronze.

On the men’s side, Wu Dajing continued his domination on the distance winning a second gold medal this weekend. He was followed on the podium by Abzal Azhgaliyev from Kazakhstan and Liu Shaolin Sandor from Hungary.

Another one for Schulting, a first for Pierron
On 1000m, Suzanne Schulting put on another top performance to win the gold. Russia’s Sofia Prosvirnova finished second but the story of this race was the bronze medal won by French veteran Véronique Pierron. Pierron who wasn’t sure she would be back this season, won her first individual medal on the World cup circuit with her performance on 1000m this weekend. “I’ve been skating around this one for a while. The conditions were really good, the ice was very fast. I was a bit nervous but it gave me extra energy. I am so happy!”

On the men’s side Liu Shaoang came up on top finishing ahead of Korea’s Park Ji Won and China’s Ren Ziwei.

Wu Dajing and friends win the mixed relay event
After winning two individual medals, China’s Wu Dajing can add to his resume that he and his teammates were awarded the first gold medal of this new short track event. The silver medal went to a team that could eventually win gold in upcoming competitions. Sjinkie Knegt, Suzanne Schulting, Daan Breeuwsma, Rianne de Vries, Lara van Ruijven from the Netherlands offered a great performance but China was just too strong this Sunday. Team Korea came in third and you can prepare yourself to see these three countries fight each other very often in the mixed relay.

Canadian rookie team on the podium in the women’s relay
If Canada’s Claudia Gagnon couldn’t believe that she was heading to the A final when we talked to her yesterday, putting a bronze medal in her suitcase sure wasn’t on her mind before the start of this first competition. To add to the excitement, their bronze medal performance was done with a time that gives them the new canadian record on the distance. Even though Canada’s top female skaters, three-time olympic medallist Kim Boutin and Canadian champion Jamie Macdonald were not skating this weekend, the women’s team was impressive. The race was won by team Russia and Korea finished in second place.

New world record on the men’s relay
It was not a secret that team Canada wanted to beat the world record on the event and it showed right from the start. Hamelin, Cournoyer, Girard and Dion established a pace that was going to lead them to the promised land but so much can happen in short track. After leading a good portion of the race, things went bad for Canada when Samuel Girard lost his balance. The door was open for the other teams to use Canada’s locomotive effect and fight for the world record. Finaly, the Olympic champion team of Hungary won the race and beat the record. Team Korea came in second while the Dutch team came in third. Canada finished in fourth place and Japan fifth.

The athletes don’t have too much time to relax since their next meeting is in just a few days in Salt Lake City, USA. Another really fast ice that will surely be host to an exciting weekend.

Recap from day 1
Recap from day 2

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